Treading Toledos 2000-year history: Mosques, Monasteries & Synagogues
Spain fans welcome to another episode of winning Spain podcast. I'm your host Burge this week. I'm coming to you. Rahm Toledo This week with the other side of the Spanish capital last week's episode. I was up in the region of Aragon and well this week about an hour. South Madrid driving in the historic city of Toledo capital of the province of Toledo and in the region of Casteel. I'm thanks for joining me as I'm talking to you. It's a Saudi Saturday morning and today's actually my birthday. I've come to Toledo with Carina and her family and well arena is of looking at wedding dresses. That was her reason for coming to Toledo. Obviously I come and go look at wedding dresses with her so I have taken advantage of the situation and I'm spending the morning wondering around Toledo at the moment. I'm standing right in the middle of Dhaka Dobie which used to be an old Arabic or Morrish. Suk these days. It's the main plethora of the city and the moment lots of people around people buying their Saturday morning. Newspapers from the little new Stan. There are groups of tour guides waiting to take people in the city. Lots of people around lots going on lots of hustle and bustle and in this episode. I'll be taking you around a few of the most important sites of Toledo I'll be recounting a little bit of history of the city and it has a fascinating and very rich history in date and I would say really. It's one of the must see cities in Spain and if any listeners at some point in the future planning a trip to Madrid and you're going to be a Madrid for more than say four or five days later is the perfect sidetrip. It's the perfect day trip from Madrid as I said it's thirty minutes on the train from Madrid. The trains leave every half an hour. And if you're driving it's about an hour drive south of Madrid so just before. I set often guide you around later just a quick note to say a big. Thank you to a new one in Spain. Patron Hugh Morin. Hugh thank you so much for deciding to sign up in support this podcast and the work that I do putting together much appreciated big big growth. Yes to you. Hugh and if any other listeners enjoy the podcast and would like to help support it. Support me in keeping it going and covering the of putting the show together covering some of my time as well Please consider signing up to become a winning Spain patron via the Patriots on page which is Patriots Dot com forward slash when in Spain. It's a crowdfunding page and you can sign up to pledge small monthly donations there are various tiers for as little as one dollar if he plays at the five dollars or above levels you will also get access to win in. Spain bonus content and just to say existing when in Spain patrons who pledge at that amount or more. I will be putting together a little bonus video to accompany this podcast episode as well so Toledo. Well this is only my second visit to actually. I came here about three years ago. I guess sometimes when things are right on your doorstep you don't often make the most of them but I just really remembering and rediscovering. Just how beautiful. The city is if you're driving into towards the city you can't help but notice. Toledo's magnificent cathedral perched on the hill. Indeed Toledo itself is dramatically situated. I would say above a gorge which is overlooking the real town. The population of Toledo is pushing nine. Hundred thousand so. It's by no means a huge city but one thing I've been walking around the city. This morning is just how confusing the layout of the city can be it really is and I know I said is quite often about Spanish cities. I DESCRIBE THEM OVER. Historic centers of being like amazed streets or a labyrinth but. Toledo really is. It's another level. It's so easy to get lost in. This city have really is a maze of tiny narrow winding streets. I don't think there is one single straight road in Toledo. One of many interesting things about Toledo is that used to be the capital of Spain. It is Spain's former capital and I do sometimes wonder if Toledo had stayed the capital of Spain. What it would have evolved into what it would have been like compared to Madrid today so it was the capital from five forty two up until seven twenty five joining the VC gothic domination of the city and this was the capital of the Gothic Kingdom. Now not much is known about the physical since Spain. They're a bit of an elusive. Gang related could lay claim to being really the center of the visigoths kingdom which followed the Roman Empire later is also known as the imperial city because it was the main venue of the court of chows. The v the Holy Roman emperor in Spain. Very important to mention that. It's also known as the city of three coaches because during the Middle Ages it was a place where Christian Muslim and Jewish communities all peacefully and respectfully coexisted alongside each other tomatoes home to musk's sephardic synagogues. And it also has one of Spain's finest gothic cathedrals all of this crammed into a very compact historic center. I will head along to the Cathedral of a little bit later. One thing to mention about the cathedral is that it is home to a twenty ton. Bell roads were specifically created to maneuver the ballot to the Cathedral. How they got up into the tower is another question. It must have been incredible feat of Engineering. It weighs twenty tons. Unfortunately the bally's Fr- act these days so it doesn't ring anymore. Toledo's other forte is art as well. The haunting campuses of the painter El Greco Greco lived into later. And today you can go and visit El Greco's which has been converted into a small museum. The last time I was in Toledo I visited it. I don't know if I would have time to do that today. In today's podcast one of the most dominating features of Toledo I would say again when you approached Toledo On the hill. One of the first buildings you may notice is the out cafod now. The out KAFFA like many other Spanish cities is An Ancient Morrish fortress. It was built on the site of an earlier. Roman fought and it was later renovated by the Christian kings. Alfonso the six the brave in the eleventh century and from the Tenth Alfonso The wise in the thirteenth century is a very imposing square block. We've four towers on each corner at during the Spanish civil war the L. Catha was used as a nationalist garrison and apparently is considered as a monument to the heroism of Franco by funke supporters at day. Now houses an army museum with exhibits all about the Spanish civil war and Just behind the AL KAFFA. There's a little square which is just where I'm standing now with. Great views looking across the plains in the distance and the hills surrounding the city. I've left the al-Qatar I'm just heading towards the cathedral and I can see the spire in the distance and negotiating flights of steps tiny narrow couple streets and walking around the city. One thing author noticed is there are lots and lots of gift shops of course because tomato is. I would say very touristy to be honest and considering that today is the seven th of March you know I would consider low season There are lots and lots of groups of tourists around and told groups. Talk is not kind of thing but just one of gift shops in the city where you also natives very steep streaks in China not to fall. Over on the couple's I'm thinking around later. Lots and lots of shops selling knifes knives and swords in fact till later has always been famous for still for it still Toledo Steel and Toledo has traditionally been a sword making and steel working center since about five hundred BC. Apparently when it came to the attention of Rome when used by Hannibal in the punic wars so it became a standard source of weaponry for the Roman legions it was also used for the Spanish armies during the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries as wall and apparently it's production is being kept secret. But yes as you walk around the city you see in shop windows through the Glass Windows. Bit Lost Now Dacca's pen knives and swords everywhere readily available to buy so down another narrow cobbled streets. The thing is with these coupled. Streets is very steep and not not easy to navigate. Luckily going downhill. But I know that going downhill means. I'M GONNA go back up hill at some point just the edge of the Cathedral now trying to work how which way to go from six gifts to the entrance. Circumnavigating the Cathedral's walls. There's no obvious entrant or I am looking for a beautiful little square people sitting out one o'clock out on the guy on the guitar. Plaza is plaza myeloid now. I was thinking of platform since the main square. But this is actually very small on the square. There is a theater cortott throw day. So if you're heading to later and you think fair platinum minorities the city's main square. It's not platform where I was beginning of the podcast. Tocado that Israeli the main thronging hub. Okay so I found that I'm standing in front of the entrance to the cathedral and I've just realized really why it's quite difficult to find. It's really really hemmed. In with tightly packed buildings all around these tiny narrow streets that I mentioned so when you're a distance away from the cathedral you can see the spires of the Cathedral but when you're up close I've just been doing who walk around in circles on these little narrow streets to try and find the kind of front of the Cathedral I suppose the entrance but found it and standing in front of it now as a monk just going into the cathedral now dressed in white the white nuns have itunes an iron gate and sort of small courtyards. I suppose a white marble clock which only has one hand on it which is marking one o'clock and then above the clock We have a round stained glass window an inside it. Lots of smaller round stained glass windows as well. It's built in the gothic style and it's considered one of the most important Christian landmarks in Spain. The Cathedral was built in the thirteenth century on the site of a Muslim mosque. And it's right next to the hood area. Which is the Jewish quarter which I'll have a walk around a little bit later to enter the Cathedral worshippers have to walk through. What's called La Puerta Day Magenta? Now the now more yet in Spanish means Muffin or sort of like a bread roll. Wherever you are in a well gee might have a different word for it and it takes this name because the store foods used to be distributed to the poll of Toledo now apparently the interior. I'll see if I can walk in. I'll see if I can head into the cathedral in a second. The interior stretches One hundred and twenty meters in length. It's got five naves. And it has eighty-eight decorated columns as well the main dome or the main Cupola. The capture Myo displays images of the Tableau of the new testament scenes with life size figures and then the other time is called the KPI they sent the outta which contains fifteen th century. Marble tombs worth mentioning. Of course that inside is one of the El Greco's art works the disrobing of Christ L. Spoleto and it also has a piece of what from the renowned Spanish artist Goya called the rest of Christ? Okay I'm inside. The cathedral absolutely breathtaking. You really get an idea of the dimensions sheer size. The cathedral on the inside as I said from the outside. It's quite difficult to tell because it's so hemmed in buildings but inside Walk into the door and get a real feel for just really the Whitsun. The Cathedral who went insane patrons Take a video of Kevin so just left the potato well worth a visit. You can walk in for free to a certain point and then they have metal a metal barrier and you have to buy a ticket to really explore all of the Cathedral. I would say it's worth it. I'm a little bit pushed for time this morning. But from what I could see especially the frescoes of Goja and El Greco. Absolutely looked beautiful. I couldn't get a completely clear view of them from where I was standing but I would say if I had more time I would spend a lot more time in the cathedral absolutely beautiful inside to sing from the outside really really doesn't do it. Justice incidentally the name of the Cathedral Catedral Premadasa Santamaria later. So I'm gonNA wonder through these narrow streets Beginning to fill up now. Getting Busier and busier with every minute is passing on this Saturday lunchtime. And I'm GonNa to hit across to the Jewish quarter of the city of tour guides and grips everywhere streets packed where I am now on. Koa Del fallow. Nearly every other shop you see is selling nine swords daggers. I'm just having looking the window now. yeah handcrafted. Constantly prices but I am not should could expensive. They've even got scissors made from Toledo steel as well. They've also got chess. Sets with the off. The pieces made from steel as well. Let's come find the Jewish quarter before the last time I came. I don't remember how to get the full of people. I imagined an high season. The two later guess exceptionally packed the products. That Toledo is famed for as well. And you also see it. Being sold everywhere in an gift shops and specialist shops as well is Mazi Pan. The almond sweet in Spanish. Matha Pan is a typical thing to eat. I'm not a big fan myself. I did like Metropolitan Tag. You're here and you want a gift from Toledo. Matha Pan is what you need. So I've just seen a sign which says Kesse Musso Day Greco Greco's house in the museum on assignment says synagogue `as synagogues which synagogues so it must be hitting in the right direction towards the Jewish quarter just walking along the street court. Cayenne collaterally that. It looks like you can pick yourself up. Toledo steel sold for around two hundred two hundred fifty euros or the cheap end of the spectrum I saw some letter openness for around thirty year and you can buy an autism little box of Mazatlan for around eight years a little bit more affordable continuing to wind my way towards the Jewish quarter of the city and I've just standing along side Iglesia Day Sanford may which is notable because inside it possesses one of El Greco's most famous paintings which is called the burial of the count of or Gaffe which was painted in fifteen eighty six and is displayed inside a special room in sight like last year. They sent me Era Hordes of people queuing up to grade inside and I just heard guide talent. Some tourists are not allowed to take any photos of the El Greco masterpiece but the uncle. Tommy is just just bordering the Jewish quarter of the city and it's a twelve th century church but it used to be a mosque and in the fourteenth century. The church was renovated by the count of autograph into a Gothic style with the very common modell style tower. Okay so I finally found the Jewish coach of the city as walking through the streets. I noticed these ingesting. Small tiny little White tiles late into the size of the streets white tiles with What looks to me like Hebrew script Blue letters in Hebrew script and these tunnels dotted all around. These treats. I'm not quite sure personally of the meaning of the tiles but nevertheless I guess it marks. I guess it makes it obvious that you're in the Jewish quarter and to sitting down in beautiful peaceful courtyard of Santa Maria La Blanca which is an ancient synagogue which has since been converted into a church now. This is a twelfth century style synagogue and after the Christian reconquest of Toledo in fourteen o five. The synagogue was converted into the Church that it is today called Santa Maria La Blanca inside the eastern wall of the building a faces towards Jerusalem. They used to be an arc in that world which held scrolls of the Torah. There is also another synagogue close to here Called El Transito. And once upon a time the Jewish culture of Toledo lack who there was harm to at least ten different synagogues so in the Jewish quarter of the city. We are slightly outside of the very center still in the city streets wider wider. And as you can probably hear their 'cause driving down these streets so I'm just walking out towards the other synagogue which is slightly slightly more modern. I was going to say what I've just seen but not really modern this one dates from the fourteenth century. And it's called Synagogue del Transito at which is also home to a Sephardic museum as well. So if you're interested in Jewish heritage in Spain than it's a must see site into later I wasn't talking about Jewish history in Spain just to note that I am planning an episode about the Sephardic history in Spain A future episode. And I've got a very special guest lined up To talk about that. Who Incidentally I had the pleasure of bumping into in Gotha last week we bumped into each other as we were walking into the Area Pallister. And we had a chat. She's also a one in Spain listener. So Nikki if you're listening to this. It was great to bump into last week. I meant give you a shoutout in the episode. About where you live and I totally forgot at. I'm sorry about that but he I'm wondering if you've ever been to Toledo because it's a fascinating place for Jewish Sephardic history. I'm standing right outside the synagogue. That del Transito right now. This is considered the most prominent Jewish monument into later again built in the style. Right in the heart of the Who'd area the Jewish quarter of the city was a thriving Jewish community here during the Fourteenth Century? The Synagogue del Transito was built in thirteen fifty six. By by some Ewell Ha Levi holidays. If my translation is a bit dodgy with that anti was treasurer to King Petro. The fest of Casteel El Transito is considered the most important example of Sephardic architecture in existence and synagogue is decorated with morrish influenced elements after the expulsion of Jews from Spain. In fourteen. Ninety two. The synagogue was then given over to the nightly off Of Calatrava one of the other noteworthy things to see in sight translator is called the Chicago Day Tarragona which contain trilingual inscriptions in Hebrew. Latin and Greek. So now you join me. In the monastery eldest son fund raise just a little bit north of the Jewish quarter. And while the monastery of the players is heaving with people as you can probably hear but it was Franciscan convent founded in fourteen. Seventy six and the church dates from fifteen fifty three founding in what I would probably describe some curious chapel and the monasteries sixteenth century. Cloister really beautiful lovely little patios well The cloisters actually consider One of the finest examples of late gothic architecture in Spanish looks out into beautiful peaceful Guardians outside on the facade of the monastery their images and statues of Christians being freed from Morrish competivity round the side of the Mona Straight into Plath at a San Fund raise taxes. Going past If you look out onto the facade there are also dozens of metal while they look like how can I describe them like shackles? Really I guess which. I assume relates to the Christians being held prisoner by the Moors. But yeah there are dozens of metal iron. Shackles hung up on hooks on the side. Of the monastery so from synagogue. Too MODEST A to musk. I'm standing in the Courtyard Gardens of Cristo. Del Alaw. This tiny little chapel was built has an Arab mosque in the year. Nine nine nine and it was built on the site of an earlier viscosity church now. The original Morrish building has remained intact with its Yeah Arcade facades and on the side of a tiny mosque. Rv Typical Horseshoe shaped arches to the windows and The autism made of looks like terra. Cotta Very Red Colored Terra Cotta and white stern giving this red and white striped effect. Which for me. A very reminiscent of the arches in the Makita in Cordoba Very reminiscent of much much much smaller scale and right next to the mosque. Or it's now known as the crystal looked Antique Mesquita is as Stone Gateway and Gateway is well in Spanish court fat. They evolve Madan but it has an Arabic name as well. It's called La Puerta Bab. Al Martyrdom is a city gate installation was built in the tenth century. And it's one of the oldest gates into the walled city the name modern is actually Arabic for blocked up. And it's thought that that's because maybe its function was taken over by the Puerta. Del Sol which is a somewhat largest city gate built in the Fourteenth Century So it's suppose that maybe this gate was at some stage blocked off and stopped being used and as I just sat there all these gates and that is because indeed as well as being perched on a hill today to is a walled city The original walls were constructed by the Romans. They were then renewed by the visigoths and they were expanded by the Moors and then enlarged even more after the Christian reconquest So a bit of a team effort. They're building the city's walls and even today they're very much still intact. You will see them as you walk around the city and the outer edges of the city and a nice thing to do If you have some time he's touchy follow the walls around the city because on the edges of the city as you trace the city walls. There are many a nice little parks and green spaces that you can stop off and sit down and relax. Especially if you've been hiking up and down and up and down all of these narrow coupled straights I have to say it's a good workout for the for the calf muscles And I guess that's something that is worth mentioning for anyone who's thinking of coming to Toledo who has Maybe mobility problems I would say unfortunately it could be quite difficult to navigate a city Toledo if you Have problems walking or indeed if you use a wheelchair? I just say that because it's incredibly steep very hilly very narrow I would say also that the streets being coupled can be quite slippery even when it's not wet so that is something to take into account The edge of the historic center which is basically the the part of Toledo which is on the Actual Hill when you arrive in Toledo the Mo-modern outskirts of the city. There is access to the historic centre via escalators by mechanical stairways. Which take you up to the beginning of the historic center but other than that once you get to the historic center. Everything is narrow steep winding streets. So just something to take into account so I will leave it there for this episode. I I've covered a few kilometers of the city in the last couple of hours. It's now about quarter to three in the afternoon I've arrange to meet up with Carina and her family. She's bought the wedding dress. And we'RE GONNA meet up for lunch now so I will leave it there. This has been a useful a little background overview and insight into the Spanish city of Toledo. As I say it is really really worthwhile. Certainly weather visit if your coming to Madrid and earlier in the podcast. I said that it's easy to make a day trip to Toledo. Well just walking around the city today for you guys has made me realize that you know actually really does warrant more than just a day. I mean you can see most of the sites in a day but I think if you really want to soak up the atmosphere of the city and see these sites that are more leisurely pace certainly more leisurely than I've done today Then you could easily spend two full days into later. Spend a night into later and have two full days to enjoy the city because really monument society than its fascinating history aside. It's a beautiful city just to walk around at a nice leisurely pace got lots of beautiful little squares and Patios hidden away in these Nari Straits. Perfect place to sit and relax and watch the welcome by so my advice if you can Give till later Two full days to see it. Probably because you can spend a couple of hours in each of these places that I've mentioned one last thing to mention also Is that all of these sites that I visited today are not very far from each other. I would say between ten and twenty minutes walk from each other But the thing that you do have to take into account but it's very difficult in Toledo to walk in a straight line between different sites so it can be a little bit deceptive when you look at a map and you see these places pretty close together that navigating the streets you have to sometimes double back on yourself. Go around in little circles. You're going uphill downhill navigating this labyrinth of streets which I've mentioned a lot in this episode to you. If you come to to later you will know exactly what I mean yes. My Legs Wreck. Pretty Achey after walking up and down around today for a few hours but I really enjoyed it beautiful city and it comes highly recommended from me. If you're in that part of Spain certainly go and visit Toledo just before I finish up this episode. If you're new to the winning Spain podcast we also have a presence on all of the usual social media platforms. There is a win. 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